NEW HAVEN, Conn.—Zane Dudek rushed for 173 yards and Yale built and preserved an early lead as it claimed a 23-6 win over Columbia Saturday before 15,422 fans at the Yale Bowl.
Columbia suffered its first loss of the season and dropped to 6-1 overall and 3-1 in the Ivy League, while Yale improved to 6-1 and 3-1 in the league. Columbia and Yale are tied for first place atop the Ivy League standings. Princeton (5-1 overall, 2-1 Ivy League) and Cornell (2-4 overall, 2-1 Ivy League) play Saturday night at 7 p.m. ET. The winner will join Columbia and Yale in first place.
With the loss, Columbia’s seven-game win streak concludes as the school’s longest win streak since 1935. It will go down tied for the third longest win streak in school history. Columbia’s three consecutive wins to start Ivy League play ties for its best-ever start in conference play. Columbia’s 6-0 start stands as its best start to a season since 1996.
“We came into this game knowing that we were going to have to play well to win,” Patricia and Shepard Alexander Head Coach of Football Al Bagnoli said. “Yale is a good football team and we’re in the middle of a tough stretch with back-to-back road games against Dartmouth and then Yale today. We knew we were going to be pressed today. We were out of rhythm. Some of it was caused by Yale’s defense. We’ve been really good at creating one-play drives and we could never get that one play today to put us over the top and give us some momentum.”
“It just wasn’t our day. I don’t want to take anything away from Yale because they forced us into it not being our day. They are a talented team and well-balanced in terms of offense and defense. It’s a really good football team that you’re playing on the road. Our margin for error today was very small.”
Columbia missed two field goals, had two passes intercepted and converted only four of its 13 third downs. It also scored a season-low six points and totaled season-lows for total offense (206 yards), first downs (16) and passing yards (175). With its run game, Yale also controlled time of possession (33:37), a statistic that Columbia entered the matchup ranked No. 3 nationally. Columbia also could not convert several scoring opportunities as it finished a season-low 1-3 in the red zone.
Dudek led Yale’s rushing attack that totaled 251 rushing yards. He rushed for 173 yards on 25 carries and also caught four passes for 45 yards, while DeShawn Salter added another 60 rushing yards.
Using its Ivy League-leading rushing attack, Yale built a 13-0 halftime lead by outgaining Columbia in total yardage 234-119 and registering 14 first downs to the Lions’ seven. It was the largest halftime deficit for the Lions this season. Yale also rushed for 155 yards on 21 carries (7.4 average). The Bulldogs entered the game leading the league in rushing with 221.7 yards per game.
Yale took a 7-0 lead when Andrew Johnson hit Jaeden Graham for a 10-yard touchdown pass on a fourth-and-goal fake field goal play. The score concluded a 10-play, 71-yard drive spanning 3:18. The Bulldogs made it 13-0 when quarterback Kurt Rawlings scored on a one-yard quarterback keeper following a seven-play, 45-yard scoring drive which was setup by a 27-yard interception return by Hayden Carlson. The extra point was blocked by Columbia senior Connor Heeb.
Yale tacked on a 37-yard field goal by Alex Garland to go up 16-0 with 5:36 left in the third quarter. The Bulldogs drove 65 yards in 10 plays and used a 40-yard pass from Rawlings to Christopher Williams-Lopez, a 12-yard run by Deshawn Salter and a 15-yard pass interference penalty to setup the kick.
Columbia cut the deficit to 16-6 with 1:18 left in the third quarter when it drove 10 plays and 44 yards and scored on a one-yard touchdown run by senior quarterback Anders Hill. The score was setup by first-year Will Allen, who returned a kickoff 46 yards, an 11-yard run by Hill and a 40-yard pass from Hill to junior wide receiver Kyle Castner that put the Lions at Yale’s one-yard line.
But Yale sealed the win and went up 23-6 lead with 8:29 left to play when Rawlings found Michael Siragusa for a nine-yard touchdown pass. On back-to-back 17-yard runs by Zane Dudek and a pass interference penalty, the Bulldogs drove six plays and 70 yards for the score.
“They played exactly what we practiced against,” Bagnoli said of Yale’s game plan. “We knew the game was going to be choppy for us offensively because they’re a high-risk, high-reward defense. They were going to pressure and play man. If we could make a few of those throws, they become one-play drops. Unfortunately, we dropped a couple, we overthrew a couple and we were never able to get that one-play drive that we’ve done in the previous games. That was going to be the difference.”
For the second time this season, Columbia blocked two kicks. On offense, Columbia was led by Castner, who made a career-high six receptions for 97 yards. Hill threw for 175 yards and completed 15 of his 35 passes. First-year Will Allen returned five kickoffs for 99 yards and also blocked a field goal. Defensively, junior safety Ryan Gilbert made a career-high 18 tackles, including 13 solo.
“We knew we were going to have our hands full today,” Bagnoli said. “We’re in a murderous four-game stretch here. Now, everybody has at least one loss. For us, just like in the weeks that we’ve won, we’ve got to put it in our rearview mirror and get ready for next week. We’ve got a resilient group of players and we’ll come back next week against Harvard.”
Columbia (6-1, 3-1 Ivy League) is back in action next Saturday at home against Harvard (4-3, 2-2 Ivy League). Kickoff is at 1 p.m. ET on Eleven Sports Network/Ivy League Network.
POST GAME NOTES
*Columbia was represented at the coin toss by its four 2017 senior captains: Landon Baty, Anders Hill, Lord Hyeamang and Bewley Wales. Columbia won the toss and deferred to the second half. Yale started off the ball.
*Today’s weather at kickoff was 65 degrees and sunny.
*Columbia wore all white uniforms.
*Columbia’s 6-0 start to its season remains its best start since 1996 when it won six straight games.
*Columbia’s 3-0 start to an Ivy League season remains its best start in conference play since 1996 when it won its first three games. It ties as its best start in conference play in school history.
*Columbia’s seven-game win streak comes to an end and will remain tied for the third longest win streak in school history. The last time Columbia won seven straight games was from Oct. 27, 1934 to Oct. 19, 1935. The school-record for most consecutive victories is eight straight wins set two times from Oct. 28, 1933 to Oct. 20, 1934 (eight straight) and from Sept. 26 to Oct. 31, 1903 (eight straight). Columbia also won seven straight two different times from Nov. 14, 1903 to Oct. 15, 1904 and from Sept. 24, 1932-Nov. 12, 1932.
*With a 16-0 deficit with 5:36 left in third quarter, Columbia trailed by its largest deficit of the season. Previously, Columbia trailed by 14 points in the fourth quarter against Penn. It came back to defeat the Quakers in overtime.
*Columbia faced its largest halftime deficit of the season at 13-0. It also marked the first game that Columbia failed to score in the first half. Coming into today, Columbia had outscored its previous six opponents 110-28 in the first half.
*Columbia trailed by its largest first quarter margin of the season, 13-0. It tied for the fewest points scored by Columbia in the first quarter this year. Columbia also scored zero against Georgetown.
*For the second time this year, Columbia blocked two kicks. Connor Heeb blocked an extra point attempt in the first quarter and Will Allen blocked a 38-yard field goal attempt in the second quarter. Columbia also blocked two kicks in the season opener vs. Wagner on Sept. 16.
*Junior wide receiver Kyle Castner finished with career-highs for receptions (six) and receiving yards (97). He also caught passes for 41 and 40 yards. His 41-yard reception from Anders Hill in the second quarter marks a career-long reception for Castner.
*Senior Landon Baty intercepted his second pass of the season in the second quarter. It was the fourth interception of his career.
*Junior defensive back Ryan Gilbert led the Lions with a career-high 18 tackles (13 solo). He finished the first half with eight tackles. It marks the third time this season that Gilbert has led the Lions in tackles. The single-game school-record for tackles is 26 set by Des Werthman vs. Penn in 1991.
*Senior defensive lineman Connor Heeb blocked his second kick of the season on Yale’s extra point attempt in the second quarter.
*First-year defensive back Will Allen finished the game with a career-high 99 kickoff return yards on five returns. He also tied his career-long for a kickoff return with a 46-yarder in the third quarter. Allen also registered the first blocked kick of his career when he got is hand on a 38-yard field goal attempt.
*The two schools met for the 96th time in series history. Yale now leads the all-time series 73-21-2 and is 40-10-2 vs. Columbia in New Haven.